Written by: Sara Nolette, CMSW, CHOICES Coordinator
When we were starting our adoption process, we were so excited and so full of hope! We couldn’t wait to welcome our child or children into our family forever! Our home study process and education took a while, but that was alright with us because we were actively working on the tasks to get us closer to bringing our children home. As a part of our home study, we were asked to complete our Matching Preferences; this was overwhelming and scary to think about (our Matching Preference document was 4 pages of diagnoses and life experiences!). We were advised by our home study worker to be as open as we thought we might be so that it would give us the most opportunity for potential matches. Once our home study was completed, we were one step closer! And then we got to make our Family Profile Book. Our book would be presented not to birth families, but to the children directly. We filled this book full of pictures of our home, our dog, our family, and our dreams of welcoming them home. This was a very fun part of our adoption journey!
After all the tasks of the home study were complete, and our profile book was finished, we waited. And we waited….And we waited. And there was nothing for us to do to help our adoption move forward, except to wait! Every day I wondered if we would get a call from our social worker. I emailed about multiple waiting children, wondering if he/she/they would be ours. The answer always came back, you’re not a match. Now, let me explain a little more here: our age range was birth to eighteen years old, and we were fairly open on diagnoses we thought we might be comfortable with, so we expected to be matched quickly.
Finally, one of my inquiries on a Waiting Child was confirmed a match. We spoke to the social worker, and we set up our first meeting. We drove 3 hours to meet a young lady who we might get to call our daughter one day. We had a nice visit with her. On the next visit, she came to our house and spent the weekend. What appeared to be a match and forever family for this sweet young woman turned out not to be. At seventeen, she could decide if she wanted to be adopted; she chose no. We had a failed match. We were devastated – for ourselves, and for her, and for her baby. We know the statistics about kids aging out of foster care; we knew this precious child would benefit greatly from the loving support of a family throughout her life. But she chose no. We left the door open for her and told her she could reach out to us at any time. We grieved our loss and hers.
A full year after our home study was approved, we were asked if we wanted to be a mentor family while we waited. We said, “of course.” It was in October 2014, that I first met our beautiful daughter, and I was introduced as her mentor family. It was love at first meeting! We had so much fun mentoring: pumpkin farms, beach trips, sleepovers… I knew we would ask to adopt this sweet young woman. In the midst of our mentoring, we received a call about a match, an 11-year-old boy. This was November 2014. We said yes, and met him, and it was again love at first sight! We welcomed him home quickly, just in time for Christmas, 2014. We sought special permission to adopt our daughter (South Carolina recommends waiting at least one year between adoptions of non-biologically related children), and we received it! Hooray! We were again in the situation where, as a seventeen-year-old, she got to choose if she wanted to be adopted. In April 2015, she finally said yes! And we officially welcomed her home!
The beauty of our story is that it all occurred exactly as it was supposed to. I didn’t know that during The Wait. The hardest part for me during The Wait was knowing our child/children were out there, maybe not in the best situation, and I wanted them home with us, in their forever family, as quickly as possible. I didn’t want them to have to wait another day for their forever family. But it all happened exactly as it was supposed to, and I am so grateful and thankful for my two beautiful, amazing, kind children.
So if you are waiting today, I hope our story helps you know that one day, you too will look back on this time and see how everything happened perfectly; you are waiting on your child, and sometimes that takes time. I wish you peace in The Wait. And I am excited to one day hear your story about welcoming your child/children home!